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Westlake Legal Group > fox-news/us/military

Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper sends first memo to troops as Pentagon boss

On his first day on the job as the new acting secretary of defense, Mark Esper on Monday sent a memorandum to all Pentagon employees, laying out the Defense Department’s “path forward.”

In the memo, titled “Initial Message to the Department,” Esper wrote, “As we continue to advance the Nation’s security, let me reaffirm our path forward. The National Defense Strategy remains our guiding document and everything we do should support its stated objectives.”

Esper was named the new acting secretary of defense by President Trump last Tuesday after Patrick Shanahan withdrew his nomination.

WHO IS MARK ESPER, TRUMP’S NEW ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PICK?

Esper, 56, has served as the 23rd secretary of the United States Army since Nov. 17, 2017. His duties included the recruitment, organization, training, equipping and care of 1.4 million active duty, National Guard, Reserve Soldiers, Department of the Army Civilians and their families, according to his Pentagon biography.

Esper said Monday the department’s priorities would “remain unchanged” and everything the department did “should support its stated objectives.”

He then went on to explain “three mutually reinforcing lines of effort” used to continue to expand the competitive space. They included building “a more lethal force,” strengthening alliances and attracting new partners, as well as reforming the department “for greater performance and affordability.”

In his memo, Esper explained that building a more lethal force would be the “surest way to deter adversary aggression” and included fully preparing for war. He wrote that it’s important to “continue to build readiness to fight” while “modernizing key capabilities for future conflict.”

Esper explained that U.S. allies and partners “play an essential role in helping us deter conflict and defend freedom around the world.” He added that through continued engagement the country will “grow these relationships and deepen our interoperability.”

TRUMP PUTS ARMY SECRETARY IN CHARGE OF PENTAGON AS SHANAHAN DROPS OUT OF CONTENTION FOR SECDEF

Esper graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1986. He received his commission in the infantry and completed Ranger and Pathfinder training.

He served on active duty for over a decade. In the early ’90s, he served with the 101st Airborne Division in the Gulf War. He later commanded an airborne rifle company in Europe.

Westlake Legal Group Mark-Esper-1 Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper sends first memo to troops as Pentagon boss Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc article 8faaf065-8edf-596b-bb43-76d53956dc00

Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper arriving at the Pentagon on Monday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Following his service on active duty, he served in both the Virginia and District of Columbia National Guard and Army Reserve. He retired in 2007.

“Having previously served in the Regular Army, National Guard, and Reserve, I understand well the sacrifices our Service Members, Civilians, and their Families make to protect this great country,” Esper wrote in the memo. “This is why I am committed to taking care of Families and ensuring they have the resources they need to thrive.”

He encouraged soldiers, sailors, airmen marines and civilians to stay focused on their mission and “always do the right thing.”

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“Together, we will remain the most ready and capable military force in the world, which is what our nation expects and deserves,” Esper said.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Mark-Esper-1 Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper sends first memo to troops as Pentagon boss Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc article 8faaf065-8edf-596b-bb43-76d53956dc00   Westlake Legal Group Mark-Esper-1 Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper sends first memo to troops as Pentagon boss Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc article 8faaf065-8edf-596b-bb43-76d53956dc00

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Air National Guard member, 2 toddlers found dead in NYC home; husband in custody: reports

Westlake Legal Group c65b811b-crime-scene-iStock Air National Guard member, 2 toddlers found dead in NYC home; husband in custody: reports Nicole Darrah fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/military/air-force fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox news fnc/us fnc article 42fbd97a-5563-5023-8b68-708d8247ae83

An Air National Guard member and her two young children were reportedly found murdered in their New York City home on Saturday — seven years after the mother was sworn in as a U.S. citizen, embarking on her American dream.

Alla ­Ausheva, 36, and toddlers Ivan, 2, and Elia, 3, were found dead in a home in the borough of Staten Island around 10:45 a.m., the New York Post reported, citing law enforcement sources.

Ausheva’s husband, 36-year-old Shane Walker, was arrested in connection with their deaths, although as of Saturday night no charges had been filed against him.

Investigators responded to the home Saturday morning to smoke filling the house. Sources told the news outlet that the children were found drowned in a bathtub, while Ausheva suffered from face and head trauma. She was reportedly found face-down on a bed.

MOM DRIVING SUV IN GAME OF ‘CHICKEN’ STRIKES, KILLS 3-YEAR-OLD SON, COPS SAY

Ausheva was sworn in as a U.S. citizen during a naturalization ceremony at the White House in 2012, according to a Post article published at the time.

Born in Russia, Ausheva moved to Queens with her husband — who had won a green card lottery — in 2011, and three months late signed up for the New York Army National Guard.

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“I always wanted to live here,” she said. “This is really a country where you can pursue your dream and do what you want to do.”

Ausheva’s ceremony was presided over by former President Barack Obama. She said at the time that she “still cannot believe that I saw the president, and he said he is proud of me. … It’s incredible.”

Westlake Legal Group c65b811b-crime-scene-iStock Air National Guard member, 2 toddlers found dead in NYC home; husband in custody: reports Nicole Darrah fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/military/air-force fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox news fnc/us fnc article 42fbd97a-5563-5023-8b68-708d8247ae83   Westlake Legal Group c65b811b-crime-scene-iStock Air National Guard member, 2 toddlers found dead in NYC home; husband in custody: reports Nicole Darrah fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/military/air-force fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/new-york-city fox news fnc/us fnc article 42fbd97a-5563-5023-8b68-708d8247ae83

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Douglas MacKinnon: Iran decision is Trump’s most ‘presidential’ moment (so far)

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6050960188001_6050962866001-vs Douglas MacKinnon: Iran decision is Trump's most 'presidential' moment (so far) fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Douglas MacKinnon article 22a18a6d-bfdb-5fbf-a5bb-5bd6dce5a3ab

Life does often imitate art, but occasionally, real-life improves upon the art.

Such is the case with President Trump’s wise decision to call off the retaliatory strike against Iran for the downing of U.S. unmanned military drone.

In the 1995 movie titled “The American President,” the fictional president in the film, played by Michael Douglas, is faced with an eerily similar dilemma.

GEN. JACK KEANE PRAISES TRUMP’S PRESSURE CAMPAIGN ON IRAN: ‘FIRST RATE’

The screenplay was written by liberal writer Aaron Sorkin and directed by equally liberal Rob Reiner.  In an effort to make their fictional President Andrew Shepherd look more presidential, a sub-plot is created in which the Libyans bomb an unmanned surface-to-air defense system called C-STAD. It’s an election year, so President Shepherd must be decisive and strike back at Libyan intelligence headquarters with a cruise missile.

He assembles his team in the Situation Room and asks his military advisors which shift as the least amount of people in the building?   He is told the “night shift,” and orders the strike.

His chief-of-staff, played by Martin Sheen, then tells the president:  “It’s immediate, it’s decisive, it’s low risk, and it’s a proportional response.”     

Later, the fictional president is waiting in the Oval Office for confirmation of the strike.  As he waits, his political pollster says:

“What you did tonight was very presidential.”

To which the fictional president replies:

“Somewhere in Libya right now, there’s a janitor working the night shift at the Libyan Intelligence Headquarters.  He’s going about his job because he has no idea that in about an hour he’s going to die in massive explosion…because he has no idea that an hour ago, I gave an order to have him killed.  You just saw me do the least presidential thing I do.”

Cut back to real-life and after Iran shot down the U.S. unmanned military drone, President Trump asked his real-life generals how many Iranians would die in a retaliatory strike? He was told approximately “150, sir.”

President Trump then decided to call off the strike which was already well in motion.

Said the president in part: “I thought about it for a second and said: You know what?  They shot down an unmanned drone…and here we are sitting with 150 dead people…not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.  I am in no hurry…”

With that decision – and with multiple advisors pushing hard for the retaliatory strike – President Trump may have just made the most “presidential” decision of his term.

He decided that there was nothing “proportional” in taking human lives because of the loss of an unmanned drone.  He decided it was not worth the risk of provoking Iran into their own “proportional” responses which would bring us closer to war.

A war, which could very well force Russia and China to side with Iran.

More than choosing not to take the lives of Iranian military personnel – and quite possibly, civilians – President Trump did one better and purposely gave the leadership of Iran some wiggle room in order for them to save face and deescalate the growing tension.

Said the president as he diplomatically offered Iran an olive branch:  “They made a very big mistake…I find it hard to believe it was intentional, and it could have been someone who was loose and stupid.”

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President Trump is not looking for his “Wag the Dog” moment to look more presidential. In the best interest of the United States, he is trying to deescalate a highly dangerous situation which could easily spiral out of control.

There is nothing more “presidential” than that.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM DOUGLAS MACKINNON

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6050960188001_6050962866001-vs Douglas MacKinnon: Iran decision is Trump's most 'presidential' moment (so far) fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Douglas MacKinnon article 22a18a6d-bfdb-5fbf-a5bb-5bd6dce5a3ab   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6050960188001_6050962866001-vs Douglas MacKinnon: Iran decision is Trump's most 'presidential' moment (so far) fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Douglas MacKinnon article 22a18a6d-bfdb-5fbf-a5bb-5bd6dce5a3ab

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Gen. Jack Keane praises Trump’s pressure campaign on Iran: ‘First rate’

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-b8d56bccd6e6450698399f4725b144d2 Gen. Jack Keane praises Trump's pressure campaign on Iran: 'First rate' Sam Dorman fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/world fnc c66badad-72ed-55df-a89f-9ebfb0a5fdb5 article

Despite provocations in the Middle East, President Trump was implementing an effective, “first rate” pressure campaign on the Iranian regime.

That was how Fox News senior strategic analyst Gen. Jack Keane described the situation on Saturday. Amid attacks on oil tankers and a U.S. military drone, some questioned whether Trump made the right decision in pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes, who helped spearhead the deal, argued that the current tensions were “eminently predictable” given Trump’s decision. But Keane, while appearing on “America’s News Headquarters,” praised the administration as the first to be on a “strategic offensive against Iran in 39 years.”

Keane described the administration’s maximum pressure campaign was “first rate.” He warned that Iran was trying to distract the U.S. from that campaign and that the administration should persevere if it wanted to change the nation’s behavior. “That has got to be our strategic focus,” he told Fox News host Leland Vittert.

KINZINGER: TRUMP’S IRAN CALL WILL ‘PALE IN COMPARISON’ TO NEXT RESPONSE

His comments came just a day after the president announced that he ordered a military strike on Iran, only to renege at the last minute due to concerns over the number of casualties. Trump argued that the attack — potentially killing 150 people — wouldn’t have been a “proportionate” response to Iran’s decision to strike down an unmanned drone.

It’s unclear whether Iran’s national leadership approved of the strike, a fact that Trump apparently knew as well. But Keane said that he took Trump’s explanation at “face value,” suggesting that his decision was mostly based on the casualty estimate his advisers gave him.

Trump’s decision prompted Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to demand he seek approval from Congress before approving more strikes. While it’s unclear how Trump will react, his administration has maintained that it would use force if necessary.

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“The Iranians know it — if they kill Americans, the response is going to be pretty significant,” Keane said on Saturday.

“What we have here is a huge opportunity … The president now, because he’s exercised restraint, has leverage. He can go to the Europeans, to the Asians,” he said, noting that Trump could push other nations to join his pressure campaign.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-b8d56bccd6e6450698399f4725b144d2 Gen. Jack Keane praises Trump's pressure campaign on Iran: 'First rate' Sam Dorman fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/world fnc c66badad-72ed-55df-a89f-9ebfb0a5fdb5 article   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-b8d56bccd6e6450698399f4725b144d2 Gen. Jack Keane praises Trump's pressure campaign on Iran: 'First rate' Sam Dorman fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox news fnc/world fnc c66badad-72ed-55df-a89f-9ebfb0a5fdb5 article

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Iran says it will respond ‘firmly’ to US aggression amid retaliatory cyberattack, aborted military strike

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6050740154001_6050734248001-vs Iran says it will respond 'firmly' to US aggression amid retaliatory cyberattack, aborted military strike Lukas Mikelionis fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc f45a9f89-d1ac-5d5c-b8fe-db1351f54ae4 article

Iran cautioned Saturday that it will “firmly” respond to any aggression or threat by the U.S., a warning that comes after President Trump aborted a military attack while a U.S. cyber team carried out a retaliatory digital strike against the regime.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi reiterated the regime’s position that it will confront any threats by the U.S. over the shooting down of an unmanned U.S. Navy drone by the Islamic Republic.

US NAVY DRONE SHOT DOWN BY IRANIAN MISSILE OVER STRAIT OF HORMUZ IN ‘UNPROVOKED ATTACK,’ CENTRAL COMMAND SAYS

“Regardless of any decision they (U.S. officials) make… we will not allow any of Iran’s borders to be violated. Iran will firmly confront any aggression or threat by America,” he said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

The comment comes in the wake of heightened tensions in the region that put Washington and Tehran on the brink of a war.

Trump said Friday that he halted the strike just 10 minutes prior because of the projected casualty loss, saying that it wasn’t a “proportionate” response to Iran previously shooting down an American military drone.

“10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not … proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world,” he wrote in a tweet, but added that the U.S. was “cocked & loaded to retaliate.”

Iran claimed the U.S. drone on Thursday was over Iranian airspace when it was shot down – but American officials stated unequivocally the incident occurred in international airspace.

State Department officials also decried “pure Iranian propaganda” reports – based solely on the Iranians’ comments – that claim Trump warned Tehran in a message through Oman that a U.S. attack on Iran was imminent,

“Reports that a message was passed last night to the Iranians via an Omani back channel are completely false. These reports are pure Iranian propaganda. #Iran needs to meet our diplomacy with diplomacy,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus wrote in a tweet.

TRUMP CONFIRMS HE CALLED OFF RETALIATORY IRAN ATTACK ‘10 MINUTES BEFORE THE STRIKE’

But while the military air strike was called off, U.S. Cyber Command launched a digital strike against an Iranian spy group on Thursday, Yahoo News reported.

The spy group is close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a terrorist-designated entity, and reportedly supported the limpet mine attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.

Additional details about the digital response weren’t available, though private American cyber groups have said that Iranian state-sponsored hackers are targeting U.S. organizations, adding Iran’s response against the U.S. will likely be executed in cyberspace.

“The question is whether or not this is intelligence collection associated with the conflict, or if it is something more aggressive, like laying the groundwork for a destructive or disruptive attack,” John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at cybersecurity company FireEye Inc., told the Wall Street Journal.

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The U.S.-Iran confrontation has been boiling since Trump backed out of the Obama-era nuclear deal in May 2018.

But the tensions reached a fever pitch in recent weeks after two oil tankers were attacked, supposedly by the Iranian forces as the regime flexes its muscles over tough sanctions that caused its currency to drop by about 60 percent in 12 months while food and drug prices are up 40 and 60 percent, respectively.

Iran is currently also seeking to renegotiate the nuclear deal with European countries, arguing that the deal must be improved amid U.S. sanctions or the regime will begin enriching uranium up to 20 percent – just a step below weapons-grade level.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6050740154001_6050734248001-vs Iran says it will respond 'firmly' to US aggression amid retaliatory cyberattack, aborted military strike Lukas Mikelionis fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc f45a9f89-d1ac-5d5c-b8fe-db1351f54ae4 article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6050740154001_6050734248001-vs Iran says it will respond 'firmly' to US aggression amid retaliatory cyberattack, aborted military strike Lukas Mikelionis fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc f45a9f89-d1ac-5d5c-b8fe-db1351f54ae4 article

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President Trump to nominate Army’s Mark Esper as permanent defense secretary

President Trump plans to nominate Army Secretary Mark Esper as the nation’s next defense secretary, the White House announced Friday evening.

Esper is set to start as acting defense secretary Monday following the departure Friday of current acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, the Washington Post reported.

The transition at the Pentagon comes amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran, following Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone over international waters and the country’s suspected involvement on attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this month.

WHO IS MARK ESPER, TRUMP’S NEW ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PICK?

Westlake Legal Group esper President Trump to nominate Army's Mark Esper as permanent defense secretary fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc e344648a-f265-527c-8734-651bf8d8f732 Brie Stimson article

Secretary of the Army Mark Esper speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 2, 2019. (Associated Press)

President Trump had announced Tuesday that Shanahan was withdrawing from consideration for a permanent appointment to lead the Pentagon because of family matters. In that same message, the president revealed that Esper was his choice to succeed Shanahan.

“I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!,” the president wrote.

Esper has been secretary of the Army since November 2017. He served in the Gulf War, worked on Capitol Hill and has been a lobbyist for Raytheon, a defense contractor. His Washington experience far outweighs that of Shanahan, who was a Boeing executive.

After Esper was nominated to lead the Army in 2017, the former infantry officer was confirmed by the Senate in an 89-6 vote, the Hill reported.

There has been no permanent secretary of defense since James Mattis resigned last December. Under the Vacancies Reform Act, which says department secretary positions can have an acting head for only 210 days, Trump must nominate a defense secretary by July 30, the Washington Post reported.

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If nominated, Esper will have to step down from his acting secretary role while the Senate considers his nomination.

Westlake Legal Group esper President Trump to nominate Army's Mark Esper as permanent defense secretary fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc e344648a-f265-527c-8734-651bf8d8f732 Brie Stimson article   Westlake Legal Group esper President Trump to nominate Army's Mark Esper as permanent defense secretary fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/senate fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/politics/defense/pentagon fox news fnc/politics fnc e344648a-f265-527c-8734-651bf8d8f732 Brie Stimson article

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Rep. Duncan Hunter: President Trump, ‘The Biden Four’ deserve your attention

Westlake Legal Group Trump032819 Rep. Duncan Hunter: President Trump, 'The Biden Four' deserve your attention Rep. Duncan Hunter fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-trials fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/opinion fox-news/newsedge/politics fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 3859c94b-d0c6-58b8-9efb-3b4107ed3224

Eddie Gallagher, Clint Lorance, Matt Golsteyn, Keith Barry, these are names you may know—but for all the wrong reasons.  They are all glaring examples of the unfortunate reality that our own government has become as much a threat to the American warfighter as the enemy they face in combat.

This is not hyperbole. There is a real, ongoing problem in our government right now that places political correctness and personal agendas over the legal pillars of justice and due process.  Unfortunately, there’s another name you should know—it’s a group of men I call “The Biden Four,” and for good reason.

In 2007, four decorated veterans sought employment with Blackwater USA to continue serving our country as armed guards protecting U.S. State Department officials in Iraq during the height of the insurgency.

RETIRED ARMY CAPTAIN: EDDIE GALLAGHER’S TRIAL IS A ‘DISGRACE,’ ‘CLEARLY, HE DID NOT MURDER ANYONE’

At the time, the unrelenting violence against members of our military and these contractors was rapidly increasing with regular car bombs and other secondary attacks forged daily. Terrorist insurgents were frequently disguising themselves as civilians or police officers in these attacks, sometimes even using women and children as decoys and human shields.

On September 16, 2007, a senior State Department official was meeting with Iraqi counterparts in Baghdad when a car bomb exploded near their location, prompting an emergency evacuation.

Blackwater security teams were dispatched to secure a safe passage for the convoy through Nisur Square, a known epicenter for insurgent violence where, just weeks before, an explosion left a crater the size of a football field.

As the convoy traveled back to the green “safe” zone, a white Kia vehicle broke away from stopped traffic at the checkpoint, driving aggressively towards the approaching convoy, ignoring commands to stop.

Just days before, a notification had been issued at a briefing warning of a similar car used in other attacks. This, coupled with the surrounding violence and the recent car explosions, is why the security team had every reason to believe that the Kia would attack the checkpoint or even the U.S. diplomat’s convoy.

Utilizing weapons provided to them by the State Department, the security team fired at the Kia to disable the clear and present threat, killing its occupants.

Immediately the security team came under small arms fire from insurgents and, after returning fire, witnesses saw military-aged men flee the scene, abandoning weapons and Iraqi police uniforms over embankments as they ran.

The U.S. diplomat passed through Nisur Square safely and returned to the “Green Zone” unharmed due to the direct actions of the Blackwater security team.

Joe Biden sided with Iraqi politicians over America’s own. This is why I am calling these veterans “The Biden Four.”

Unbeknownst to anyone, the Kia was not a car bomb and, following an investigation led by an Iraqi official with known ties to two insurgent groups, these Blackwater contractors became low-hanging fruit in a political correctness battle led by the same government they had served and protected.

During the investigation, the security team was compelled to provide statements about the incident under threat of termination, these statements that were specifically prohibited for use in any criminal prosecution.  The Department of Justice (DOJ) then unconstitutionally used these statements to charge and indict these men on manslaughter and weapons offenses designed specifically to control and punish gang violence and armed drug dealers, not military veterans.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) then unconstitutionally used these statements to charge and indict the men on manslaughter and weapons offenses designed specifically to control and punish gang violence and armed drug dealers, not military veterans.

Fortunately, the original presiding judge in this case recognized the prosecutorial misconduct and dismissed the charges due to “reckless” violations by the DOJ that had “compromised the constitutional rights of the accused.”

But their ordeal was not over. Enter external pressure from the politically correct left.

In an effort by the Obama administration and a State Department run by Hillary Clinton to appease Iraqi government officials, Vice President Joe Biden announced at a joint press conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in Baghdad that the U.S. federal judge got the decision wrong and that the U.S. government was committed to ensuring that these men be sent to jail for the incident.

Joe Biden sided with Iraqi politicians over America’s own. This is why I am calling these veterans “The Biden Four.”

With the full backing of the Obama administration, the DOJ appealed the original dismissal of charges and prosecuted these men again, this time offering testimony from perjuring witnesses and withholding exculpatory evidence about the attack.

After refusing a plea deal, three of the four men had weapons charges reintroduced.  You are reading this correctly, decorated veterans were punished by their own government for using weapons provided to them by that same government as if they were drug dealers and gang members, paving the way for an unjust conviction.

If anyone should be able to count on our justice system to protect them, it should certainly be those who have defended our nation with their lives. But our justice system has not protected The Biden Four. Three of them were convicted and given a sentence of 30 years and the fourth was retried and given a life sentence.

Four American veterans were convicted by a jury of civilians — none of whom had ever seen combat.

The Biden Four have already served over four years in prison. They are political pawns who now sit in jail.

They are still there even after the Iraqi politicians got their reelection and President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Vice President Biden scored points with a liberal media that vilifies our veterans as heartless mercenaries playing soldier.

The fact remains, these brave men were sent to prison for doing their jobs, jobs that require split decision-making with real lives hanging in the balance.

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President Trump is currently reviewing other cases in which he may exercise his authority as commander in chief to issue a pardon. The Biden Four should be given full consideration for this action.

Our warfighters deserve better. It’s time to have their backs.

Westlake Legal Group Trump032819 Rep. Duncan Hunter: President Trump, 'The Biden Four' deserve your attention Rep. Duncan Hunter fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-trials fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/opinion fox-news/newsedge/politics fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 3859c94b-d0c6-58b8-9efb-3b4107ed3224   Westlake Legal Group Trump032819 Rep. Duncan Hunter: President Trump, 'The Biden Four' deserve your attention Rep. Duncan Hunter fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-trials fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/opinion fox-news/newsedge/politics fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 3859c94b-d0c6-58b8-9efb-3b4107ed3224

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Inside Iran’s deadly armory and its capabilities to fight the US

In the hours after Iran is said to have downed a $125 million U.S. surveillance drone over international waters with a surface-to-air missile, despite Tehran’s vehement denials, President Trump gave the green light to retaliatory military strikes before later ordering a halt amid the alarming spike in tensions.

The inflammatory incident – which comes on the heels of escalating rhetoric between Washington and Tehran and other apparent sabotage vessel attacks – has many U.S. lawmakers and officials still fearing that some form of a military confrontation may be inevitable. But just how capable is Iran when it comes to fighting back and what lurks inside the country’s shadowy arms arsenal and how is the Iranian military structured?

“Iran has two military institutions. First is the Artesh, or the regular armed forces – Army, Navy, Air – and then there’s the Revolutionary Guard or IRGC with its own separate chain of command and force structure. Most of the subterfuge and malicious activities in the Middle East that can be attributed to Iranian actors is the work of the IRGC,” Miguel Miranda, an expert analyst in military technology in Asia, told Fox News. “Now Iran has a colorful arsenal and much of it is obviously dated but still functional. Old CH-47 Chinook helicopters and M60 Patton tanks immediately come to mind – this is what the Artesh are stuck with.”

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But, he cautioned, since the 1990’s Iran’s state-owned military-industrial sector has made steady progress in four particular areas and is now a “regional leader” alongside Israel and Turkey when it comes to unmanned systems, small arms and light weapons, artillery, and ballistic missiles and other guided munitions.

“Iran has demonstrated it can launch dozens of road-mobile short-range ballistic missiles at targets beyond its borders. Recent innovations include a cruise missile likely patterned on a Soviet design with a range exceeding 1200 miles,” Miranda continued. “Iran’s missile technology and ability to manufacture these is far more advanced than any Arab state. Iran can mass produce short, medium, and long-range anti-aircraft missiles based on-reversed engineered Chinese, Russian and U.S. models.”

Westlake Legal Group 615298bc-AP446885797862 Inside Iran’s deadly armory and its capabilities to fight the US Hollie McKay fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/military fox-news/tech/topics/pentagon fox-news/tech/technologies fox news fnc/tech fnc article 35651e1e-9726-541f-8ad6-aea5088d39c3

A Ghader missile is launched from the area near the Iranian port of Jask port on the shore of the Gulf of Oman during an Iranian navy drill, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. Iran says it has tested advanced anti-ship missiles in the final day of a naval drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for one-fifth of the world’s oil supply. State TV says “Ghader”, or “Capable”, a missile with a range of 200 kilometers (120 miles), was among the weapons used Tuesday. It says the weapon can destroy warships. (AP Photo/Jamejam Online, Azin Haghighi) (AP2013)

While Iran has been a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) for almost four decades, it is not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) nor The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.

Since the 1979 revolution and imposition of hefty western sanctions, coupled with the devastating 1980’s war with bordering Iraq, Iran has been battling a feeble economy and tight restrictions when it comes to easily advancing its weapons cache the way most others in the region have been able to do. Thus, much of the Iranian depository is said to be locally made, with abundant government funding to spend on everything from importing tools and parts to developing factories – with a little help from the outside.

According to John Wood, analyst and author of “Russia, the Asymmetric Threat to the United States,” Iran acquires majority of its equipment and expertise from Russia and China, along with “acquiring technology through the black market, especially from Eastern Europe and North Korea, as well as through clandestine operations in Western Europe.”

While the UN conventional arms embargo has somewhat helped limit what Iran can access abroad through official channels, it expires in October 2020 – rendering an open question as to whether Iran can then purchase more state-of-the-art weaponry from a broader array of players.

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In this image posted on the official Twitter account of the Saudi Press agency, SPA, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2015, confiscated weapons are seen aboard an Iranian fishing boat bound for Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen’s Shiite rebels says it has foiled an attempt by Iran to smuggle missiles and other weapons to the rebels aboard a fishing boat. The coalition says in a statement released Wednesday that the seizure took place on Saturday some 241 kilometers (150 miles) southeast of the Omani port of Salalah. (Saudi Press Agency via AP) (The Associated Press)

Miranda underscored that Iranian drones are “another success story” and they boast having all types from handheld prop-driven spy planes to long-endurance models that carry bombs on their wings to the notorious Saeqeh that comes with a “jet-powered UAV able to launch munitions.”

And then there is a covert action routinely employed to mimic the inventions of its enemies – in particular, Miranda surmised, is that the losses of U.S drones throughout the protracted war in Afghanistan have aided Iran in the way of acquiring the damaged models and enable them to analyze them for reverse engineering.

“Iran will use militias, cells, and spies, in Shia communities throughout the region to conduct sabotage, especially of the energy complex, kidnapping of Westerners and attacks on the US and its allies,” Wood told Fox News, via email. “Over the decades, Iran has developed an extensive and robust military-industrial complex – they also have chemical and biological weapons.”

Yet the breadth and condition of its chemical and biological capabilities – despite having ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) in 1973 – is not completely clear.

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Moreover, Jonathan Rue, associate director of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s (JINSA) Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy, concurred that while Iran lacks the modernity of neighboring countries, it has sought not to match its stockpile with big players like the United States, but has instead become particularly skilled at “using basic capabilities in sophisticated ways to target U.S. and allies’ vulnerabilities, like overwhelming naval and air defenses with lots of attack craft, missiles and drones.”

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FILE – In this Feb. 3, 2019 file photo, an Iranian clergyman looks at domestically built surface to surface missiles displayed by the Revolutionary Guard in a military show marking the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, at Imam Khomeini Grand Mosque in Tehran, Iran. On Monday, April 8, 2019, the Trump administration designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a “foreign terrorist organization” in an unprecedented move against a national armed force. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps went from being a domestic security force with origins in the 1979 Islamic Revolution to a transnational fighting force. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

“Ironically as we’re seeing now, as we saw in the 1980s, Iran’s use of simple naval mines in vital shipping lanes can do a lot in terms of escalating tension with the United States,” he explained. “Decades of sanctions have forced Iran to develop a sizable domestic arms industry. These are not latest-generation capabilities, and they wouldn’t defeat the U.S. in a major head-on conflict. But they are good enough, and Iran has enough of them to make it difficult for the U.S. and allied forces.”

Last year, Trump controversially pulled out of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, re-imposing grueling economic sanctions and applying what experts have coined a “maximum pressure” campaign on Tehran’s regime.

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Meanwhile, Iran has for weeks warned it will ignite a treacherous chapter in its dispute with the West next week, threatening to dump aspects of the fragile nuclear deal and resume stockpiling unless European signatories to the deal can get around the crippling U.S. sanctions.

“Iran has significant manpower and a network of proxies and partners around the region that could be activated to deter direct attacks on Iranian soil,” added Ali Vaez, Director of the Iran Project, via email. “It would be a mistake to think that an escalation between Iran and the U.S. will be a quick, cheap or easy military operation. It could well lead to a major confrontation involving major losses in blood and treasure on both sides, and even a wider regional war involving their respective allies.”

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US squadron of F-15E fighters arrive in UAE amid Iran tensions

A squadron of American F-15E Strike Eagles arrived in United Arab Emirates on Thursday as part of reinforcements against the Iranian threat as announced last month by the Pentagon.

President Trump announced the additional military presence in the Middle East last month, saying additional 1,500 troops will be sent together with a squadron of U.S. Air Force jets.

The arrival of the U.S. jets on Thursday coincided with an attack on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, an attack that the U.S. says was perpetrated by the Iranian regime.

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An F-15E Strike Eagle deployed from the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, lands at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, June 14, 2019. F-15E’s are designed to perform in air-to-air and air-to ground operations in any environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran was responsible for the “blatant assault” on oil tankers, an assessment he based on “intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”

President Trump, meanwhile, told “Fox and Friends” Friday that the attack had “Iran written all over it.’

“Iran did do it and you know they did it because you saw the boat,” he said, before pointing to the video showing the Iranians removing the unexploded mine. “They’re a nation of terror and they’ve changed a lot since I’ve been president, I can tell you,” he added.

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Two F-15E Strike Eagles from the 336th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina taxi the runway at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, June 13, 2019. The F-15E’s joined ADABs inventory of other fighters to include F-15C Eagles and F-35A Lightning IIs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

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U.S. officials also released a video on Friday supposedly showing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the vessels.

The black-and-white footage, as well as still photos released by the U.S. military’s Central Command on Friday, appeared to show the limpet mine on the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, before a Revolutionary Guard patrol boat pulled alongside the ship and removed the mine, Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said.

Westlake Legal Group ADAB-3 US squadron of F-15E fighters arrive in UAE amid Iran tensions Lukas Mikelionis fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world/conflicts fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense fox news fnc/world fnc article 84af6ae3-7ddf-598f-bedd-679d4a1c1e3d

F-15E Strike Eagle aircrew hold up their 336th Fighter Squadron flag, June 13, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The 336th FS deployed from the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, bringing additional air power to Team ADAB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury))

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) released additional images Monday showing the aftermath of mine attacks against the oil tankers, including some images purporting to show Iranian forces removing an unexploded device from the hull of one of the vessels.

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Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said he had also approved a request from CENTCOM to send approximately 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East “to address air, naval, and ground-based threats” in the region.

None of the announced 1,000 troops are U.S. Army or Marine Corps infantry or U.S. Special Operations Forces, according to U.S. officials. All the additional troops are support troops for the fighter squadrons currently deployed, the Patriot anti-aircraft missile batteries and engineers.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group ADAB-1 US squadron of F-15E fighters arrive in UAE amid Iran tensions Lukas Mikelionis fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world/conflicts fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense fox news fnc/world fnc article 84af6ae3-7ddf-598f-bedd-679d4a1c1e3d   Westlake Legal Group ADAB-1 US squadron of F-15E fighters arrive in UAE amid Iran tensions Lukas Mikelionis fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world/conflicts fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/defense fox news fnc/world fnc article 84af6ae3-7ddf-598f-bedd-679d4a1c1e3d

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Nuclear changes, more troops heighten US-Iran tensions

The U.S. and Iran edged toward a flashpoint Monday as Tehran announced it was breaking compliance with the accord that keeps it from making nuclear weapons and the Trump administration followed by ordering 1,000 more troops to the Middle East.

The Pentagon said the deployment includes security forces and troops for additional surveillance and intelligence gathering in the region. While the number is small, it represents an escalation of U.S. military might aimed at deterring Iran and calming allies worried that transit through key shipping lanes could be in jeopardy.

Tehran’s announcement earlier Monday means it could soon start to enrich uranium to just a step away from weapons-grade levels, challenging President Donald Trump’s assurances to allies that the U.S. withdrawal from the deal last year made the world a safer place.

The developments are bound to inflame tensions in the Middle East and pose a test of resolve and credibility for both adversaries.

Iran said it would break a limit on uranium stockpiles established by the 2015 agreement with world powers that was intended to restrict the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in exchange for an easing of international sanctions.

After Trump withdrew from the agreement, signed by his predecessor, he reinstated punishing economic sanctions, leaving the European and other partners in the accord struggling to keep Iran on board.

On Monday, the U.S. administration found itself in the awkward position of demanding that Iran comply with a nuclear accord that the president derided as the worst deal in history.

“We continue to call on the Iranian regime not to obtain a nuclear weapon, to abide by their commitments to the international community,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told reporters.

The move comes as Washington accuses Iran of attacking two tankers near the Persian Gulf and the Iranians deny responsibility. With details murky and no one owning up to the attacks, the Pentagon released new photos intended to bolster its case that Iran carried out the attacks.

The State Department spokeswoman said Iran’s uranium announcement amounted to “extortion” and a “challenge to international norms,” as well as to the 2015 agreement known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“It’s unfortunate that they have made this announcement today,” Ortagus said. “It doesn’t surprise anybody and this is why the president has often said that the JCPOA needs to be replaced with a better deal.”

Trump appeared to say the deal should not be violated in a tweet: “Iran to defy Uranium Stockpile Limits.”

In announcing the new deployment, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the forces are “for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East.”

“The United States does not seek conflict with Iran,” Shanahan said. “The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests.” He added that the U.S. will continue to adjust troop levels as needed.

On the unravelling of the multinational nuclear deal, some of its supporters blamed the Trump administration for Iran’s provocative announcements, saying they were predictable given the renewed U.S. pressure.

“While Iran’s frustration with Trump’s reckless and irresponsible pressure campaign is understandable, we strongly urge Iran to remain in compliance with the nuclear deal,” the Arms Control Association said in a statement. “It remains in Iran’s interests to abide by the limits of the agreement and to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s more intrusive monitoring and verification.”

Iran has shown no willingness to negotiate another deal and vowed not enter into talks with the United States while the administration maintains its “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions.

Administration officials found themselves Monday grappling with whether to press the remaining parties to the deal, including Britain, France and Germany, to demand that Iran stay in compliance. They must also consider if such a stance would essentially concede that the restrictions imposed during the Obama administration, while short of ideal, are better than none.

Under the deal, Iran can keep a stockpile of no more than 660 pounds (300 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium. Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran’s atomic agency, said it would pass that limit June 27.

A senior U.S. official said the administration is most concerned about any violation of the deal that would reduce the breakout time that Iran would need to produce a nuclear weapon. The deal aimed to keep the breakout time at one year.

The official said certain violations, while they should be not accepted, would not necessarily reduce that time. But other violations, such as enriching uranium to 20%, should be addressed immediately if they occur, the official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said it would be up to the Europeans to decide if Iran was in violation of the deal and whether to initiate a dispute resolution mechanism that could bring the Iranians back into compliance. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to meet this week with E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, a leading deal proponent, at which this issue is likely to be raised.

Pompeo, who was a leading critic of the deal while he was in Congress, has said in the past that Iranian compliance is not really an issue as the administration sees the agreement as fundamentally flawed because over time it eases many limits on Iran’s nuclear activities.

Yet, just last week, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog accused Iran of violating a provision of the deal that relates to advanced centrifuges and called on the Europeans to ensure that Iran remains in compliance.

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